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Reflections on Amoris Laetitia (Joy of Love)
The Joy of Love (Amoris Laetitia)
Reflections on The Joy of Love (Amoris Laetitia)
In his 325-paragraph document, Pope Francis provides his prayerful reflections on marriage and the family: their strengths and weaknesses, their call from God and the challenges they face.
Pope Francis recommends that The Joy of Love be read “patiently and carefully”
Each week we read an extract from the Pope's letter and reflect on how it might relate to our family lives.
“Take time, quality time. This means being ready to listen patiently and attentively to everything the other person wants to say.”
(Amoris Laetitia 137)
Share a meal or activity this week as a family without any distractions. Make an intentional effort to put away phones, turn off the television, and enjoy the company of those you love most.
“Love bears every trial with a positive attitude. It stands firm in hostile surroundings. This ‘endurance’ involves not only the ability to tolerate certain aggravations, but something greater: a constant readiness to confront any challenge. It is a love that never gives up, even in the darkest hour”
(Amoris Laetitia 118).
Every family endures hard times. Recall one such hard time and try to see what good God may have drawn out of it for your family, or, if you can’t see that yet, what you hope he will draw out of it.
"A family marked by loving trust, come what may, helps its members to be themselves and spontaneously to reject deceit, falsehood, and lies.”
(Amoris Laetitia, 115)
In a trusting context, one has no need to hide. Children who grow up in this context will know that they will be accepted always, and so will have the courage to own up to shortcomings. Examine your conscience this week about whether you’ve fallen into suspicion, unfair judgment, or seeming to withhold your love due to a shortcoming of a family member.
“The family must always be a place where, when something good happens to one of its members, they know that others will be there to celebrate it with them” (Amoris Laetitia, 110).
Celebrate something this week with your family! If nothing immediately comes to mind as a cause for celebration - celebrate the gift each family member (including grandparents) brings to your family and share this with them.
“Today we recognize that being able to forgive others implies the liberating experience of understanding and forgiving ourselves… We need to learn to pray over our past history, to accept ourselves, to learn how to live with our limitations, and even to forgive ourselves, in order to have this same attitude towards others”
Mother Mary Francis, a Poor Clare, wrote to her sisters once that the quickest way to “kill” charity is to be too hard on yourself. If you hold yourself to an unrealistic standard, you will do the same to others. Accept your own imperfections today with a laugh and a trusting prayer for mercy.
“My advice is never to let the day end without making peace in the family. ‘And how am I going to make peace? By getting down on my knees? No! Just by a small gesture, a little something, and harmony within your family will be restored. Just a little caress, no words are necessary. But do not let the day end without making peace in your family’.
(Amoris Laetitia 104).
Tonight, think over your day and your relationships with your family if there’s someone you should reconcile with before bed go and do it!
"In the family, 'three words need to be used. I want to repeat this! Three words: ‘Please’, ‘Thank you’, ‘Sorry’. Three essential words!'”
(Amoris Laetitia 100)
Simple words but not so simple to put into practice. This week raise awareness of the importance of these words in your family relationships and compliment family members when they do use the words.
“To be open to a genuine encounter with others, ‘a kind look’ is essential… [it] helps us to see beyond our own limitations, to be patient and to cooperate with others, despite our differences. Loving-kindness builds bonds, cultivates relationships, creates new networks of integration and knits a firm social fabric… In our families, we must learn to imitate Jesus’ own gentleness in our way of speaking to one another”
(Amoris Laetitia 100).
It can be very difficult to look kindly at a child who is acting out, or at our spouse when he/she tunes out to your chatter. This week, look at your family members and say to yourself, “Jesus is looking at them right now too.” That may help change the way that you see them.
“Love inspires a sincere esteem for every human being and the recognition of his or her own right to happiness. I love this person, and I see him or her with the eyes of God, who gives us everything ‘for our enjoyment’ (1 Tim 6:17). As a result, I feel a deep sense of happiness and peace”
(Amoris Laetitia 96).
This week, compliment members of your family, and try to choose something meaningful/sincere that you may never have said to them before. Think about what it means to see someone with “the eyes of God.”
“True love values the other person’s achievements. It does not see him or her as a threat. It frees us from the sour taste of envy. It recognizes that everyone has different gifts and a unique path in life. So it strives to discover its own road to happiness while allowing others to find theirs”
(Amoris Laetitia 95).
It is always difficult not to compare ourselves to other people, but that inevitably is not fulfilling and does not bring us happiness. This week, reflect upon the unique path that you have been on so far, and entrust yourself to God in confidence. Plan something fun with your family for next weekend so that you can appreciate your families particular gifts and uniqueness.
“Patience takes root when I recognize that other people also have a right to live in this world, just as they are. It does not matter if they hold me back, if they unsettle my plans, or annoy me by the way they act or think, or if they are not everything I want them to be. Love always has an aspect of deep compassion that leads to accepting the other person as part of this world, even when he or she acts differently than I would like”
(Amoris Laetitia 92).
Deep down, if we are being honest, we may expect everyone else to think like we do; or if they don’t, they should. This week, take the time to consciously appreciate one or two things that your spouse, children, or other family members do better than you, and recognize that they put up with your imperfections just as much as you put up with theirs.
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